5 thoughts on “Linda S. Watson on Capital Metro goals and progress

  1. chrysrobyn

    The first minute, the introduction, sounded like quite a challenging and interesting interview.
    “Why did you choose to move to Austin”? What kind of question is this?

    “Do you ride the bus or rail?” Good question. “I selected a place to live that was right next to a bus stop” That’s a harsh answer that acknowledges the lack of universal service. Good answer.

    “What unique problems does Austin have that you haven’t seen before?” “People love cars.” That’s unique? “Kids and older people ride transit more”. Does that actually answer anything? Either we don’t have particularly unique problems — why not say so — or she’s dodging.

    “What are you doing about people who worry about increased fares?” “When you have funding, it’s nice to offer free fares. Now, it’s important for everyone to pay their fair share. There’s not much opposition” When fares contribute less than 10% of operating costs, what does ‘fair share’ really mean? “People who really need service and can’t afford it can use money from a fund to pay for it”.. so people will continue to get free service… “More details by the first of the year [2011]” I don’t see how the question was answered in any meaningful way. Perhaps we should have heard that research and surveys say people are willing and able to pay an additional 25 cents for every trip, so CapMetro has nothing to worry about. A 25% increase in price will reduce ridership by 10%, which is a net win, or something like that.

    “What’s the plan for increasing ridership of the Red Line?” “Mid day service starting in January.” “Friday evening service experiment for one month” So, mid day and friday evenings are the Red Line’s major ridership barriers? Connections are all good? I don’t think so. What about a goal of having transit fulfill all transit needs with a less than 50% / 20 minute increase over private cars for 75% of Austin residents? Or maybe just identifying the top 10 complaints that commuters say would need to be fixed before they’ll even try it? Set a goal, communicate it, and be held to it. Bad answer.

    “When will Friday evening service begin?” “Maybe the spring, before Summer vacation” That’s nice. Are hipsters and 20somethings looking for bars really a big contribution to the Red Line breaking even? Or will this have a positive impact on drunk driving? What other good will come of it?

    “What will it take for Austinites to give up their cars?” “People don’t like traffic and the cost of parking.” “As we do a better job informing the community, we’ll see more people moving to transit.” I’m very informed about what Cap Metro can provide, and I’m not a good fit. I may not be cost effective to pursue, but maybe there are a lot of people who are currently well served and just need that communication. I just don’t have any faith that CapMetro has any real data comparing car and transit commute times for any group of commuters, either by age, by neighborhood or by employer. They’ve released some very interesting reports on what the area will look like in 2020 and how to serve it, but nothing about how compelling the service is now, or will be in 9 years.

    I’d like to see different questions. “What ridership targets does Cap Metro have?” “Does CapMetro aim to use mass transit to replace road construction costs?” “What is the definition of ‘viable’ that CapMetro uses when considering mass transit a viable substitute for a resident / potential customer?” “Does CapMetro aim to be a reasonable replacement for a car for occasional use (suggesting a price target of replacing gas money) or for exclusive use (allowing a price target of gas money + car payment + insurance)?” “What is the average time and price premium for a paying customer at each of the areas top 20 employers, and is CapMetro comfortable with that?”

  2. gigi

    Answering in circles. As an employee of CMTA, very disappointed in Ms. Watson. All the talk of good relations with the drivers, lol. Things have become worse. Now management locks the office doors, to keep us out. There went the open door policy. When Ms. Bomar complained about the cameras in the vehicals too catch a driver eating a potato chip, She was close. It was an apple. The driver was sumonds to a hearing with the big guns, and written up. Good grief we DO NOT get any type of break. Must I say more?

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